We are passionate about the teaching of English at All Saints Primary school and believe that learning to read and write opens up worlds of possibility for our children. Throughout the school, beginning in Reception, we follow different approaches to teach the different aspects of English, as outlined below.
At All Saints primary school, we follow Pie Corbett’s ‘Talk for Writing’ approach to teaching writing. We value stories and think that they have the ability to transport our learners to anywhere in the world, using their imaginations. Talk for Writing is an approach to learning writing, where talking is key. Within a sequence of learning, the children will first learn a new text through a text map, including lots of pictures, actions and expression. They will then find their own way of ‘stepping into’ the text and creating their own versions. Once the children have imagined, developed and told their new text, we believe they are then ready to write. You can see Talk for Writing in action in any of our classrooms, with handy ‘washing line’ displays, colourful text maps and ‘magpie’ walls where children can learn from one another in this collaborative approach.
In our reception classes, children begin the wonderful journey of learning to write through the learning and retelling of a range of stories. They then explore these stories independently through retelling in the role play area, outdoor writing area and construction areas. Through Key Stages 1 and 2, our children write their own stories and non-fiction texts, using the Talk for Writing approach. The children also have many more opportunities across the curriculum, for example in history, to practice their writing skills.
We believe that reading is a magical experience and, at All Saints, we place a high importance on the enjoyment of reading. We want all of our children to be confident, enthusiastic and life-long readers and, over the course of their time with us, have the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of genres. We have a fully stocked library, which each class visits once a week, and a wide selection of both fiction and non-fiction books for children to borrow and read at home.
In Reception and Key Stage One, we teach early reading skills through daily phonics lessons, as outlined in ‘Phonics’. Once the children have mastered their phonics and are able to ‘decode’ most texts accurately, most children will become independent readers. This a crucial stage in the children’s reading journeys, where we encourage children to read books which develop their love of reading, spark a curiosity within and allow them to explore the world outside of their everyday experiences.
Reading from Y2 – 6, we teach reading through a range of different ways, including whole class sessions and smaller guided groups. We always focus on texts that we believe will capture the imagination of the children and allow them to develop and refine key skills such as, prediction, visualisation, asking questions, changing their minds and inferring. In our reading lessons, we follow a ‘VIPERS’ approach to the teaching of reading which stands for; Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explanation, Retrieval and Sequencing (Key Stage One) or Summarising (Key Stage Two). We also know how important it is for children to listen to books being read to them, and we prioritise this in our daily activities – from Reception to Year Six. We also encourage the children to simply read for readings sake, to really get lost in a book and develop a life-long love of reading.
Reading at home
To create a love of reading, we believe that it is vitally important that children have the opportunity to practice their reading skills at home. We strongly recommend that children read with a grown up for 20 minutes a day, for 5 days a week. Not only does this encourage a love of reading, but also gives the children the chance to practice and refine their reading skills that they are learning in school. If a child reads the recommended 20 minutes for 5 days a week, by the time they are in year 6, they will have read for 21,600 minutes. In comparison, a child who only reads for 4 minutes per day, will have only read for 4320 minutes. Please try to build these 20 minutes a day into your daily routine to support your child with their reading.
At All Saints CEVA Primary School we follow Jolly Phonics for our phonics teaching. In phonics our provision is designed to ensure that all of our children will learn to read well. Phonics provide the roots for reading that help our children grow in to confident readers; with reading for pleasure at the very heart of our reading curriculum. We believe that all children should progress through the phonics sounds with fluency and confidence and thus place high importance on high quality teaching and resources. Phonics and reading are essential tools to access the whole curriculum, to engage and make sense of knowledge and to explore, question and respond to the world. A strong phonics basis enables us to ensure our children flourish as readers and therefore develop socially, emotionally, intellectually and culturally. We offer a structure and sequence of lessons to help teachers ensure they have covered the skills required to meet the aims of our phonics programme and these lessons are supported by a vast range of high-quality resources.
Websites to support parents at home
To continue the positive start that the children make when learning phonics in Reception and Year 1, we have introduce a spelling programme for years 2 – 6 called ‘No Nonsense Spelling’. No Nonsense Spelling focusses on the spelling conventions, rules and patterns set out in the National Curriculum to be taught in each year group, as well as common exception words (words that don’t follow any rules) and personal spellings. Our children will be learning a different area of spelling each week with a minimum of 3 x 20 minute sessions and a list of that week’s spellings will be sent home. The children will have a spelling bee challenge each week.
At the end of each term, teachers will choose a most improved speller from each class and those children who have met their spelling targets each week, will be rewarded with a certificate and a place on our ‘All Saints Spelling Hive’. There will also be a special trophy awarded to the class with the most children who have met their personal spelling targets. We are hoping to create a real ‘buzz’ about spelling at All Saints and hope that you can help your children practise their spellings at home.
We have adopted the Kinetic Letters approach to teaching handwriting at All Saints and this means that we spend lots of time creating ‘stronger bodies’ as we believe that, without this foundation, the skill of handwriting is very difficult. Handwriting sessions begin in reception, where children focus on their fine and gross motor skills and learn how to create the letters of the alphabet. The letters are grouped into different ‘families’ and we practice one family at a time. Please find more information about the handwriting ‘families’ below.
When learning how to draw the letters, the Kinetic Letters approach uses a story of two monkeys sitting on branches to show where different letters start. These monkeys are ‘Scared Monkey’ and ‘Brave Monkey’ and you will see them sitting on branches in all of our classrooms. The idea behind Kinetic Letters and the monkeys is that forming letters becomes automatic; therefore, children can concentrate on the skill of writing, without having to think about forming their letters.
In Reception, the children practice their handwriting in lots of different ways, including; writing in sand, water and slime, creating huge letters in our outdoor space and using their bodies to create the letters. In Key Stage 1 this knowledge is then further built upon when children write these letters with pens and pencils both in handwriting lessons and across the curriculum. We then focus on ‘flow and fluency’ in Key Stage 2, and begin to learn how to join handwriting. At All Saints we take great pride in our handwriting and presentation and believe that Kinetic Letters is an exciting and engaging handwriting programme which will fill our children with the confidence they need in order to progress with their writing development.